Businesses and event organisers will be responsible for ensuring people keep a record of where they’ve been to help health officials track the spread of covid-19.
Record keeping is already mandatory in some circumstances at level 2, but will be extended to all customer-facing services at all levels, covid response minister Chris Hipkins said at today’s covid update.
Hipkins said that means people will have to keep a record when they visit a business or event with either the tracer app or manually. The government had planned to announce the change last Wednesday, with Hipkins noting his past displeasure with declining app use, but pushed that out when the current outbreak of the delta variant became apparent.
“It is clear that when people use the app or manually sign in, rather than relying on memory, contact tracing can happen much more quickly,” Hipkins said.
“We know from our own and overseas examples that an outbreak of covid-19 can be extremely difficult to trace and contain without people keeping a good record of where they have been and who they have come into contact with.”
The Ministry of Health today said there are 21 new cases in the community, of which 20 are in Auckland where the latest outbreak has been focused. The other case is in Wellington, having been previously reported, and takes the total number of cases in the capital city to six.
So far there are 72 confirmed cases, of which 61 are confirmed as being linked to the Auckland cluster.
Hipkins said tech giants Apple and Google are fine with the mandatory record-keeping requirement, but that they would have had issues had the order been linked to the tracer app.
Compulsory record-keeping will come into effect seven days after any change in alert level, which Hipkins said will give businesses time to prepare for the change.
Firms will be responsible for ensuring people either scan or sign in, with penalties ranging from $300 to $1,000. Hipkins said the government is reviewing the penalty regime, but that any change will need to be a legislative one.
He acknowledged the latest impost on businesses, but said they’re largely supportive.
“They can see the benefit of it in terms of reducing the probability of being closed,” he said.
Cabinet will meet tomorrow to determine whether to relax any areas from the existing national lockdown, which is set to end on Tuesday night. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has already signalled that Auckland will probably remain in lockdown for longer, but ministers have been reluctant to speculate on other areas.